Career Management with The Barrett Group
Companies Who Have Hired Our Clients
Robert HukshornSegment Director Petfood
MatteoEVP of Supply Chain & Transformation
Hans WesselDirector of Accounting
Ray ClearyGeneral Manager
AlhassanDirector, Government Sector
Agata LewandowskaOperational Efficiency Consultant
Maciej KossowskiCCO & CEO
Hugo VereekenHead of Sales & Business Development
Peter WitkeChief Commercial Officer
ElfredaVice President K-12 Strategy
Robert Hukshorn - Success StudySegment Director Petfood
Robert Hukshorn was interim general manager for a Dutch innovator of diagnostic and analytical tools for the beauty industry.
High Tech, Beauty, Cosmetics, Sales, Packaging
When his interim position ended, Robert sought a new job, but Covid had changed the job market, and he knew he had to learn to job search differently from how he’d done it in the past.
Robert boosted his network and strategically leveraged his contacts to slip in the backdoor of a company for a position that was a perfect fit for his skills, experience, and long-term goals.
Robert is the new segment director petfood of a global leader in metal packaging, a position that satisfies nearly every aspect of his 5-year goals.
Robert Hukshorn was interim general manager of a Dutch innovator of high-tech, diagnostic and analytical tools for the beauty industry. An experienced change manager, Robert succeeded in achieving some aggressive organizational improvements at the company, including reducing working capital, growing sales, and reducing default rates. It was his first taste of being managing director of a company – something to which he’d always aspired. When he stepped down, he took a short break before looking for another position.
His timing, unfortunately, coincided precisely with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I didn’t consider my next move before I left the company because I needed to clear my head. In February 2020 I did what I always had; I lined up some interviews. Then Covid happened. One day I had three or four opportunities cooking; the next day they all stopped,” said Robert.
Robert continued his job search for several more months without results. By May, he knew he needed to do something different.
“What had worked before wasn’t working anymore,” said Robert.
As Robert sat googling recruiters, he began to wonder if there weren’t a better way for job seekers to get the help they need.
“Headhunters and recruiters work for the company, and I thought: Isn’t there someone that does it the other way around? Then I stumbled on The Barrett Group and thought: This is it! They are doing something different!”
Robert had never used an executive coach before, so he did his homework.
“I asked a few people I knew in the recruitment world if they’d heard of The Barrett Group. Only a few had, but none had worked with them. I filled in the form and within a few days I was talking to a company representative. Obviously, I asked for a reference. I feel that I got a really honest portrait of what the process entails. There is no magic wand and you get a dream job. You need to do the work,” said Robert. “In the end, I took a leap of faith because it was a method I’d never tried before.”
In signing on with TBG, Robert wanted guidance on honing his job search and building his network.
“I can sell any product, but I found it hard to sell myself,” said Robert. “Once I get to the table, I get my strengths across. But how do I get to the table?”
Robert’s first “Aha!” moment came during the Clarity Program.
“It was really good – way better than I expected!” said Robert. “I expected everything to be focused on the career path, but you also focus on personal goals, like work-life balance, health and fitness, and 5-year targets.”
The greatest benefit Robert got from Clarity (including the motivation to lose 25 kilos) was that it became very clear that a position of general manager, impressive though the title may be, was not for him.
“I realize that I derive my energy from the commercial and technical side of business and less so from the operational side,” he said. “That focused my job search. I put that and other goals on my wall so every day it would remind me: These are my 5-year goals!”
He also narrowed his search to the high tech and packaging industries. As Robert began working with his career consultant, he found himself reflecting on that “dot on the horizon” often during his job search, which helped him stay on track.
“The next step of the program is totally different from Clarity – it’s business!” said Robert. “Working with Greg Emslie, I really came to understand how the job market works.”
Robert had used both the published and unpublished markets in previous job searches, but he found this time was a very different experience because he learned how to be strategic.
“It’s a sales funnel! When you understand what influences a company to hire you, you can consciously take steps to increase your chances of success,” said Robert.
Robert doggedly followed TBG’s program. He updated his resume, built up his social capital, and leveraged LinkedIn to search for new opportunities. Before he had enlisted TBG, he had searched for people in the packaging industry in the Netherlands and invited them to connect. Many did, but until he joined The Barrett Group, he didn’t know how to make those connections useful. With his newfound education, though, he created a spreadsheet of his new contacts and wrote each one requesting a 15-minute conversation to get to know them. This turned out to be the key to his landing success.
“I saw a position for ‘segment director petfood’ of a packaging company that was so close to my 5-year target. I submitted my resume and a PowerPoint presentation that laid out all my qualifications through their website, but there was no hiring manager’s name associated with the position. I felt like I was throwing my resume into a black box,” said Robert. “So I leveraged the unpublished market as I’d learned.”
Robert noticed that one of his new contacts had recently worked at the company. He reached out for more information. Before long, he had the private cell phone number of the hiring manager in hand and was able to reach out directly to the decision maker. They had a great conversation.
“He told me that he knew in the first 30 minutes that I was the guy for the job,” said Robert. I entered the game just in time – even two to three weeks later would have been too late!”
Robert signed a contract two months later and is elated to have had such a successful landing.
“It’s absolutely fantastic! I wake up with a big smile in the morning and I go to work singing,” said Robert. My new colleagues have been extremely welcoming. It’s been one of the best onboarding experiences I’ve ever had.”
Robert truly valued the help he got from his coach.
“Greg was a critical co-thinker during my job search. He is someone I can brainstorm with and has been an extremely good sparring partner for me – asking the right questions, like, How will this opportunity help my long-term goals?” said Robert. “With the help of Greg and The Barrett Group, I didn’t get nervous. I stayed focused on my goals and made a conscious choice about where I wanted to be. All this has been tremendous value.”
Matteo - Success StudyEVP of Supply Chain & Transformation
Matteo was senior director of worldwide supply chain for a leading designer and producer of luxury accessories.
Soon after starting a new job, Matteo’s new company turned out not to be a good cultural fit, but his efforts to find another job weren’t yielding the results he wanted.
Learning how to “pay it forward” as he built his social capital unlocked untapped potential in Matteo’s network.
Within four months, Matteo had four competing job offers, giving him the luxury of choosing the company where he felt the greatest kinship with his new team.
For seven years, Matteo worked for a venerable apparel company in New York City, culminating in a role as vice president of global supply chain. When the pandemic compounded existing economic pressures, however, the business struggled to stay afloat. Matteo saw the handwriting on the wall and put feelers out to his network for new job opportunities. He was thrilled when, before long, he was approached by a large, international designer and producer of luxury accessories, which offered him a role as senior director of worldwide supply chain.
It was an exciting change for him, but unfortunately short-lived. Within months, it became clear that Matteo’s new opportunity was not a good cultural fit. He launched another job search, but this time things proved harder than the first search.
“I started with a soft approach in the early summer. I hired someone to redo my resume and I took a couple of courses on LinkedIn,” said Matteo. “I used LinkedIn more heavily over time, but by late fall I had exhausted my network. I didn’t know where else to go to get referrals.”
Matteo had a good network, but his efforts yielded few results. Frustrated, he turned to a friend who suggested he look at The Barrett Group for help.
“I spent a week researching The Barrett Group and decided to give it a try. I realized I needed very structured help and I found it with them,” said Matteo. “I really love that the program combines, holistically, several different elements of job searching, like coaching, clarity, and offer negotiation tactics – I call them weapons.”
Matteo began the Clarity Program in December and was surprised by how much he learned about himself in just four or five sessions.
“My coach, Beata Piskorz, was very nice, very professional, and always available. Beata really challenged me to brainstorm different things about myself. She particularly homed in on character traits that emerged from my psych test that seemed a bit unusual,” said Matteo. “For example, I’m in the fashion industry, which is inherently uncertain, but it turns out that I like structure and compliance. Those traits lean towards industries where much is pre-determined. As we explored this, it revealed more potential career paths that I never would have thought to consider. It was an eye-opening moment.”
Matteo discovered that he now had three avenues he could pursue in the course of his job search: 1) fashion and luxury; 2) innovation, and 3) consulting.
“I was very excited by this information. We decided that I would not leave the fashion and luxury world, but that I would pursue all three avenues in my job search.”
After Clarity, Matteo transitioned to working with his career consultant, Isabelita Castilho.
“Isabelita was a force of nature!” said Matteo. “I cannot say enough good things about her. She was also great about availability – and I was terrible about bombarding her with meeting requests. She is the kind of coach that is tough but in a fair way. She would sometimes tell me to stop and focus. I really appreciated that from her.”
The first things they worked on were Matteo’s resume and LinkedIn profile.
“I had already hired someone to redo my resume back in July, so it was already in good shape. But The Barrett Group team made it even better,” said Matteo. With LinkedIn, I learned that your profile shouldn’t be a cut and paste of your resume. That change alone has been impactful. I also changed my header and picture. All this coaching was very beneficial.”
For Matteo, the most valuable aspect of his TBG experience, however, was learning how to optimize his social capital.
“Learning about the concept of paying it forward from Isabelita was a lightbulb moment for me. I had a decent network and had always kept good relationships, but I realized from her that I wasn’t maximizing them,” said Matteo. “When I started to nurture my network using pro bono consulting in the way Isabelita suggested, that is when my job search really started to take off.”
Matteo came to fully appreciate the power of paying it forward from his experience with two or three particular people in his network.
“One of my contacts knows a lot of people and had provided me with some names a few months back, but nothing came of those contacts,” said Matteo. “After I hired The Barrett Group, I called him again and offered to put him in touch with a former boss of mine, who would be a great professional contact for this guy. During that conversation, he was surprised to learn that I was still looking for a job.”
That’s the moment that unleashed the potential of Matteo’s social capital. His contact provided him four to five more names at high-caliber companies that he could connect with.
“That individual was responsible for two of the job offers I got,” said Matteo.
Matteo found that his paying-it-forward efforts quickly created a dynamic job search. Within two months, he had as many as four job offers, not to mention several other budding opportunities.
“The most difficult part was making sure I was getting good offers from all the companies. Isabelita was always a point of reference for me. I tend to rush things during job offer negotiations, but she told me not to message the hiring managers too much or I might appear overeager and get a lower offer. It paid off!”
In the end, Matteo accepted a position as executive VP of operations and transformation for a luxury fashion company in New York City, where he got a great feeling about everyone he met.
“The human element is important to me, and, here, the whole team seem to be really good people,” said Matteo.
Matteo is thrilled by his new opportunity, and he knows that he has all the tools he will need if he finds himself in the job market again.
“This pay it forward thing is so easy, yet it’s such a powerful tool,” said Matteo. “Once you see the potential it can unleash, it’s fantastic! It’s one of the best things about the TBG program!”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
Hans Wessel - Success StudyDirector of Accounting
Hans Wessel was director of EMEA accounting at an international IT company based in Silicon Valley.
Accounting, Business Services, Information Technology
Hans spent 18 years helping the company build up its shared service center, but when new management moved the back office to India, Hans found himself out of a job in a market he no longer recognized.
By building his network of contacts, Hans saw opportunities materialize in the unpublished market that didn’t exist in the published market.
Hans landed as director of accounting for another international, California-based, IT company where he looks forward to a great, long career.
Hans Wessel was director of EMEA accounting for an international company based in Silicon Valley that provides a wide range of printing solutions for signage, packaging, textiles, and ceramic tiles. An 18-year veteran, Hans worked his way up to his position from accounting manager by helping the company build up and out its shared service center and he loved his job. As the company quickly grew from $350 million to a $1 billion, Hans oversaw the European general ledger and the European payroll from his office in the Netherlands. In 2019, however, trouble hit, resulting in the company’s being acquired by a private equity firm. To make the company profitable again, the new management transferred all the back-office jobs from the Netherlands to India. Hans was asked to help with the transition with the understanding that he should also seek other employment.
“For two years I worked hard to get them up to speed, the whole time preparing myself for a job change,” said Hans. “It was a tough challenge. The job market had dramatically changed in 18 years. I felt like I’d been living under a stone.”
The prevalence of LinkedIn in a modern job search was his first eye-opener.
“I had a LinkedIn profile, but I’d never spent much time developing my profile or relationships within it. That turns out to be very important. You can’t get a job if you don’t have good contacts,” said Hans.
With his level of experience, Hans hadn’t thought he’d need help finding a new job. But as his old job wound down, Hans searched with little success. After a year of no opportunities, Hans started to worry; his confidence waned. One day he stumbled across The Barrett Group on LinkedIn and decided to enlist their help.
“I kicked things off with the Clarity Program. My coach, Stacey Ballinger, had me do various personality tests. I had done tests before, but not like these. You learn a lot about yourself in a different context than in a working environment. The Clarity Program is very serious because your life depends on it! It forces you to take a step back and examine everything about your life,” said Hans.
Hans really valued his Clarity experience. It made him realize that he was happy with his career path and would be happy to do more of the same kind of work, and he was also open to change. His only requirement was to continue to work in an international environment.
After Clarity Hans was handed off to his career consultant, Rebeca Gelencser, who taught him how to maximize the potential of LinkedIn. She also helped him overcome his discomfort with reaching out to people and cultivating relationships.
“Rebeca had me build up my network and made me aware of all the benefits of using LinkedIn. That was good because if you casually use LinkedIn, you don’t see all the possibilities,” said Hans. “It turned out great. By the time my old job ended, people in my network were already reaching out to tell me that they knew of opportunities for me.”
The TBG writing team re-wrote Han’s CV, and Hans learned the importance of tweaking his CV for each job application to ensure it contained the key words in the job description.
“I reworded my CV for every application because your CV is alive, so to speak. You have to tailor it to the job post.”
Hans found it very helpful to work on his interview skills with his coach, too, because, while he had conducted plenty of interviews, he had little experience sitting in the interviewee’s chair.
“The interview practice helped me be prepared for strange questions and understand better what goes through the head of an HR person,” said Hans.
In the beginning, it was tough going for Hans during his job search. He did a lot of applying and not a lot of interviewing. He tried not to let the lack of responses from companies get him down.
“The most challenging thing about a job search is when the company doesn’t acknowledge your application. You start to doubt yourself, but you have to accept that during a job search you will interact with impolite people and try not to be too hard on yourself.”
For Hans, the published market yielded few opportunities. The unpublished market, however, was very successful. To his delight, as Hans built up his social capital two great leads materialized.
“There were two people, a tax advisor and a lawyer, that I had worked with at my old company. When my job ended, my relationship with them essentially ended, too,” said Hans. “After I joined The Barrett Group, however, I reconnected with them. They each told me about an opportunity that they knew of at a company where they did business. These were opportunities where there weren’t even job descriptions!”
Hans followed up on the opportunities and, after five interviews that happened very quickly over the summer, ended up with an offer to become the new accounting director of another international IT firm based in California.
“I have been in my new role for two months already and I like it very much! It’s just what I was looking for. Some aspects are similar to my old job, but there are also different responsibilities and opportunities to learn new things. All in all, it is a good fit!”
Hans sees himself at his new company for a long time and feels very gratified with his TBG experience.
“The program really works. It quickly got me from no responses to many responses – and all in the unpublished market. This job was published nowhere,” said Hans. “Once I started with The Barrett Group it was a smooth process. I’m very happy in my new role.”
Ray Cleary - Success StudyGeneral Manager
Ray Cleary was vice president of risk management, transaction underwriting, and portfolio management for a large airline leasing and financing company, overseeing business in the Middle East and CIS region.
Finance, Financial Services, Airlines, Aerospace & Aviation
Not long after Ray relocated to Dubai, his company announced a merger that would shutter his office, forcing Ray to rethink his long-term career goals.
After deciding to make a bold shift in job function and to live in a specific geography, Ray leveraged his network of contacts to help him achieve his goals.
Within four months, Ray was offered the position of general manager of fleet management of another large airline in his target geography – a transformative pivot in his career.
Ray Cleary was vice president of risk management, transaction underwriting, and portfolio management for a large airline leasing and financing company. Located in Dubai, Ray oversaw a $2 billion portfolio in Russia, Turkey, CIS, and the Middle East region. He had assumed the position a year earlier, transferring within his company after eight-years doing similar work in a different region and market.
Two years after Ray moved to Dubai, however, his company announced a merger that would result in the closure of his office. It triggered Ray to reflect on his career goals – specifically, the kind of work he wanted to do and where to do it – and whether those goals aligned with the prospects available to him in his soon-to-be merged company.
Ray wasn’t ready to leave the Middle East, however, his time to make new contacts in the region had been short-lived, then stymied by the pandemic, such that he had few good work options there. So, he hired The Barrett Group to help him source opportunities.
Ray began his TBG experience with the Clarity program. To his surprise, it was life changing. In addition to confirming that he wanted to pursue employment in the Middle East, he realized that he wanted to redirect his career.
“The counseling process pushed me to deeply consider what I value in life,” said Ray. “I was at a stage in my career that I wanted to move away from risk management and the transaction writing piece of the airline industry and move towards a commercial role, like fleet and relationship management. Clarity crystalized for me that I had two options: I could stay comfortable and continue to do what I was doing – but somewhere else, or I could step out of my comfort zone and achieve what I wanted to achieve.”
Other pieces of the Clarity Program that Ray found very valuable were seeing his “strengths and shortcomings” in a structured report, learning what triggers him, and learning how to manage different personality types to get the results he needs.
“I found that really useful,” said Ray. “I came to understand what I want, what my flashpoints are, and how to navigate various situations and conversations. It really helped me when it came time to interview with the person I work for now.”
In the next phase of his TBG program, Ray worked on his personal branding campaign. He was delighted with the changes the TBG team made to his CV and LinkedIn profile, and his consultant coached him on how to pivot from talking about hard skills to talking about how he could add value to an organization.
“Isabelita really brought value to the program. She was a great sounding board, and everything was prepped before I went to the market to look for a job,” said Ray. “Isabelita then challenged me to reach out to lots of people and follow up on various opportunities.”
Ray came to realize that his network of contacts is like an ecosystem.
“I hadn’t kept up my LinkedIn connections, so Isabelita had me doing searches, finding second and third level connections, then sending them a message. The success rate of my effort to connect with someone turning into an exchange was remarkably high.”
That ecosystem turned out to be Ray’s golden ticket to his dream job.
Ray first came to know about the position that he ultimately landed thanks to the thesis supervisor of the executive MBA program that Ray was pursuing, who had seen the job posting in LinkedIn. By coincidence, one of the people on the adjudication panel for a group MBA project Ray was working on was also a senior member of the consultancy firm that had advertised the job opening. Ray later discovered that a former boss of his now worked at that consultancy firm, too.
“Lo and behold, the connections from past, future, and current were all involved in this role coming together. The need to maintain a good network was evident to me!”
Ray was thrilled to find such a great job opportunity, however, he still had to prove himself in the interview process. As it turned out, it all hinged on a 90-minute phone conversation.
One Saturday morning in early July Ray connected with the hiring manager for the position, who asked whether he was available for a group interview later that evening. He was. The evening interview turned out to be intense but, essentially, all it took for Ray to secure the position. Despite the challenge, Ray felt fully prepared.
“I faced off with four to five people on the call. It was a tough 90 minutes! I had to think on my feet, and the whole process brought home to me that you need to be well-prepared when a good opportunity comes to you,” said Ray.
Ray credits The Barrett Group for his successful performance in that interview.
“There was a significant amount of work that I put in during the three months leading up to that interview. From reflecting on what I wanted to do, to recognizing my skills, to building up contacts – I was prepped for that interview. That is due to The Barrett Group, no question about it!”
When Ray received the initial job offer, his career consultant provided critical assistance in the compensation negotiations, resulting in a much more attractive package.
“This is where TBG really earned its fee. Thanks to Isabelita, I was able to understand quickly what should be in the package and, so, negotiate a better one,” said Ray.
Three weeks in, Ray is thrilled with his new job.
“I am quite happy! This has been a very smooth process for what has been a very significant life event. I foresee growth on so many levels – and it’s all thanks to TBG for preparing me for it. As for my new role – it will truly transform my career. Whether I spend four or six years doing it, my career now goes on a different road from where it was headed before.”
Alhassan - Success StudyDirector, Government Sector
Alhassan was regional manager for Bahrain and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia for an Indian multinational hospitality company.
Hospitality, Travel, Government
Hit hard by the pandemic, the company had to restructure and Alhassan yielded to growing pressure at the company to leave.
The Clarity program helped Alhassan develop the right mindset for his search, and his coach helped him handle a delicate compensation negotiation during the hiring process.
Alhassan landed an exciting position in the government sector that aligns with his professional goals and offers long-term job stability and growth potential.
As regional manager for a fast-growing, Indian multinational hospitality company, Alhassan was responsible for all the company’s operations, finance, and business development in Bahrain and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. In the 18 months he was there, he devised strategies to make the company’s activities more effective in the region and implemented business development plans to open the Bahrain market. When the pandemic hit, however, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain went into lockdown and the company went into survival mode. Alhassan was very creative in keeping his books in the black, nevertheless, the company decided to restructure and initiate layoffs. Feeling the pressure, Alhassan opted to leave the company and search for his next opportunity.
Anticipating the pandemic’s threat to his job, Alhassan actually had begun job hunting months before he gave notice. He hired a company to rework his resume and upgrade his LinkedIn profile, began using online job search sites, and reached out to recruiters. Despite all his efforts, however, he had no success – not even an interview.
“I understood the situation. Things were tough in 2020 and no one was hiring at the senior level. They were cutting their losses,” said Alhassan. “I figured they would begin hiring again in 2021, though, so in January I started pushing hard in my job search.”
Alhassan’s challenges weren’t over, though. January yielded no interviews, nor did February. But about the same time, Alhassan came across The Barrett Group and decided to take a leap of faith and enlist their help.
“I started in mid-February with the Clarity Program. The purpose of Clarity is to make sure you know what you want in your career. It is also really valuable for flipping your mindset from negative to optimistic before you start with the career navigation phase,” said Alhassan. “Clarity really helped me to be forward-thinking.”
For Alhassan, regaining his optimism was very important because job searching unsuccessfully for so long had taken a toll on his spirits.
When Alhassan began the career navigation phase of the TBG Program, his coach, Isabelita Castilho, gave him a thorough training on the best practices of job hunting.
“I learned many new methods of hunting and nailing down a job that were different from what I had been doing. I learned a lot about how to use social capital in the job search, what to tell recruiters and what not to tell them, and how to use second- and third-level contacts on LinkedIn. Isabelita gave me so much knowledge about the job-hunting process that I hadn’t known before hiring The Barrett Group.”
Before long, Alhassan began to see some developments. In March, a recruiter helped to connect him to a mining company that interviewed him and extended a provisional offer for a COO role. By then Covid was raging in India, however, preventing him from obtaining hard copies of crucial employment documents from his former India-based employer that the new company required. Although the offer fell through, Alhassan was buoyed to see his job-hunting efforts beginning to fruit.
After that, another company, a start-up that provides online car service that sought to break into the Saudi market, began to court Alhassan for a role as a regional manager.
The opportunity that most excited Alhassan, however, was one in the government sector that Alhassan had been nurturing for over a year. In March 2020, a friend and former colleague had broached Alhassan about his interest in doing work for Vision 2030, a major strategic framework of the Saudi government to diversify its economy and develop investment projects in Saudi Arabia.
“I’ve had a long-standing interest in participating in Vision 2030. The job my friend was proposing to me would be a director-level position helping to attract investments to Saudi Arabia. It would be a big deal,” said Alhassan.
Alhassan had an initial interview for the role, but his hopes were thwarted when Covid cases soared and hiring shut down as a result. Alhassan’s friend suggested they reconnect in a year. They did, at which point his friend started promoting Alhassan’s candidacy from the inside.
“Two weeks later I got a call from HR for a preliminary interview. More interviews followed and they collected my salary history and other documents. Finally, I received a verbal offer.”
The offer turned out to be much lower than what Alhassan had hoped. Public sector jobs are typically lower paying than private sector jobs, but, even so, Alhassan was dismayed. His first instinct was to come back with a strong defense for a better offer, but his career consultant offered him counsel that helped him navigate the situation perfectly.
“Isabelita told me not to play hard ball because, without a job, I’m in a vulnerable position. She advised me to play it nicely – to tell them that the offer is much lower than my former salary, that it would be a big hit to me, and I would be very thankful if they could meet me in the middle. Isabelita was with me step-by-step.”
To his delight, the strategy worked. The hiring manager met Alhassan’s proposed number exactly. In addition, Alhassan came to appreciate more fully the significant value of the non-salary perks. The new position offers challenge, job stability, regular salary increases, tuition payments for his children, and, of course, the opportunity to participate in Vision 2030.
“I was even able to design the compensation package with him!” said Alhassan.
Working in the government sector will be a different experience from the private sector, where Alhassan spent nearly 20 years, but he feels this new opportunity is perfect for his current needs.
“I feel like working on Vision 2030 is the right thing for me to do right now. And if I want to change jobs in the future, I now have the right tools to hunt for the right job. If you take the TBG Program very seriously, you acquire the know-how to do a job hunt very effectively on your own later. I tell people it’s a little like college – but for C-level jobs!”
Some identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
Agata Lewandowska - Success StudyOperational Efficiency Consultant
Agata Lewandowska was head of administration and facility management at the Polish affiliate of a multinational engineering and technology company.
Administration, Engineering, Technology, Finance, Health, Non-Profit, Audit
When her husband was offered a job in Geneva, Agata quit her own job in Warsaw and looked for a new one in Switzerland, but job hunting was challenging in another country.
Agata revised her CV and LinkedIn profile and worked hard to develop a network of contacts in Geneva where she knew no one.
Within about three months, Agata was offered a position as an operational efficiency consultant at a major non-governmental organization with a much better compensation package than she’d expected.
Agata Lewandowska was head of administration and facility manager at the Polish affiliate of a multinational engineering and technology company in Warsaw. She loved her job and was highly valued by the company for her skill in optimizing processes and creating efficiencies. However, she and her husband hankered for adventure, and they knew that they were unlikely to come by it unless they actively took steps to make it happen.
“I adored working at my company, but we wanted a change. Our life was very comfortable, but if you don’t consciously change things, you could do the same thing for your whole life,” said Agata. “So, my husband took a job in Switzerland, and we moved to Geneva.”
The move was good timing for Agata who was pursuing an MBA at the time and was stretched thin by the demands of her intensive academic load on top of work and family responsibilities. She left her job and spent her first year in Switzerland concentrating on completing her degree. Although she welcomed the relative break it afforded her, Agata’s new normal required her to fly back to Warsaw each weekend for classes and exams and left her no time to develop relationships in Switzerland.
As soon as she graduated, Agata was eager to get back to work. She had been out of the workforce for 10 months, by that point, but figured that having an MBA would open new doors for her. She underestimated the hurdles she would encounter, however.
“In Geneva they speak French. To work as a head administration or facility manager again, I’d have to speak fluent French, which I don’t – I speak French at an intermediate level. So, I thought I would target a role as a business analyst or project manager at an international company because I have solid experience in those two areas and, at an international company, I could use English,” said Agata.
Agata was industry-agnostic, which should have made her job search easier, but no matter how many jobs she applied to, no matter how well she fit an advertised position, her search went nowhere.
“I updated my CV and applied for numerous positions, but I got no responses at all. Nothing. It was like I was sending applications into the depths of the universe,” said Agata. “Many people told me I should forget about my experience and apply for junior roles, but I didn’t want to take a huge step back in my career. After three months, I knew I needed help.”
That’s when Agata found The Barrett Group.
“I had a list of top-level headhunters from my MBA program, but I didn’t want a headhunter. I wanted a job. Headhunters just try to fit people into jobs that are available. I wanted an organization with a different approach. The Barrett Group was the only company of this kind that I found.”
Agata started the Clarity program in December and valued the confirmation it gave her of her strengths and attributes.
“I have undergone lots of training and development programs, so I wasn’t surprised by the outcomes of the Clarity assessments, but after being out of work for so long I had started to doubt the value that I offer employers,” said Agata. “Clarity not only affirmed that, but also it gave me a good idea of how to leverage my strengths and discuss my weaknesses in a realistic and positive way.”
In the next phase of TBG’s program, Agata worked with her coach to revise her CV, her motivation letter, and her LinkedIn profile. At the same time, her coach gave her exercises to begin building her network.
“It felt like the revision of my documents took a long time, but I realized later that it was designed that way to give me time to do the networking exercises. I had little experience with that, and I had very few contacts at all in Switzerland – 95% of my network was in Poland,” said Agata.
Agata’s coach, Rebeca Gelencser, had her start by reaching out to contacts in Poland to get used to the process. Then she showed her how to reach out to people in Switzerland.
“I didn’t have a lot of confidence at that point, but Rebeca was so supportive of me. She seemed more confident in me than I was in myself!” said Agata.
As Agata developed her network, Rebeca showed her how best to communicate her skills.
“After about a month, I could see things starting to roll. I would talk to someone, who gave me the contact information of someone else. It was a really precious exercise,” said Agata. “To be honest, I never got to the point where I felt entirely comfortable with it because then I found a job!”
Agata’s coach learned of a great opportunity and brought it to Agata’s attention.
“Rebeca saw a position for process optimization at a major non-governmental funding organization and connected me with the recruiter. This was the first job I applied to for which I felt my skills matched 100% and which also matched my requirements. It seemed perfect for me.”
After submitting a CV, Agata was invited to interview and take an assessment. She was delighted when the recruiter then invited her to apply for a second position in a different department.
“I was pursuing opportunities in two different departments. I finally got an offer from the first one, which I preferred. The offer was way higher than I expected, and I accepted it without waiting to hear about the second position.”
Agata is delighted to be back to work and in a role that offers challenge commensurate with her experience. The uniqueness of her success isn’t lost on her.
“It’s really hard to get a job if you arrive unemployed in a country where you have no network. All the immigrants I know in Switzerland said it was inevitable that I would have to take a lower-level position.”
Agata credits The Barrett Group program, and especially her coach, for helping her to forge a new path.
“I used to wonder who on earth would pay for a coach. I felt that I could always motivate myself – but that isn’t always the case. I often felt so discouraged. But Rebeca gave me strength and optimism after every conversation. She made me feel that I could do it,” said Agata. “The Barrett Group was so valuable because it offered me a different approach. I’m not yet comfortable with networking, but I’m sold on the process, and I’m going to keep working at it.”
Maciej Kossowski - Success StudyCCO & CEO
Maciej Kossowski was commercial director for Poland and general manager of franchise operations in the Baltic states for a multinational beverage corporation.
Marketing, Sales, Information Technology, Medical, Virtual Reality
When his company of 19 years undertook a global reorganization, Maciej’s career growth flattened out and he decided to move on.
Learning to exploit the potential of LinkedIn and expand his network opened Maciej’s eyes. He also came to see that his nonlinear career path made him the ideal profile for a startup executive.
Maciej accepted a role as chief commercial officer for a five-year-old, polish-based, medical tech startup with international ambitions.
Maciej Kossowski was commercial director for the Polish affiliate of an American multinational beverage corporation and general manager of franchise operations in the Baltic states. For 19 years he rose through the company’s ranks, working various positions from marketing and sales to revenue growth management, to customer management.
After his company undertook a global reorganization in 2020, however, Maciej foresaw fewer advancement opportunities. Professional growth was very important to him, so he decided to pursue another career path. He sought professional help and contacted The Barrett Group.
“I knew there would be heavy lifting and a lot of uncertainties in my career transition, and I wanted a trusted partner who could lead me and keep me motivated,” said Maciej. “The kinds of services that The Barrett Group (TBG) provides are so useful if you haven’t changed jobs in a long time. I think of job seeking as a muscle – if you haven’t used that muscle in a while, it isn’t as strong as it could be. But you can hire career management professionals who can coach you to do what you need to do faster, better, and more easily.”
Maciej started in the Clarity Program, taking stock of where he was and where he wanted his career to go with his coach, Rebeca Gelencser.
“Rebeca helped me a lot. I did all the assessments. I found the tests – especially DISC – to be very useful for a job transition,” said Maciej. “I liked also that Clarity makes you think about how your career affects other aspects of your life, like your family.”
In the next phase of the program, Maciej worked with Isabelita Castilho, his career consultant, who helped him revise his LinkedIn profile and taught him the benefits of social capital. Building social capital didn’t come naturally, at first. Most of Maciej’s previous efforts to build professional contacts were limited to people at his former company. Developing external contacts, he found, is a completely different exercise.
“I had a LinkedIn profile before I started my job search, but I wasn’t super active. I didn’t nurture my contacts before because I didn’t need to. Then, suddenly, I needed to,” said Maciej. “Isabelita did a really great job coaching me to develop my connections. I’ve met a lot of great people thanks to her, and it’s clear to me now that your network is crucial.”
Maciej was very motivated to tap into the hidden job market. Using techniques he learned from TBG, he lined up interviews with numerous companies in different industries. His experience was sometimes humbling, but he didn’t give up.
“Ideal jobs don’t just drop into your lap. You have to work towards them, and you fail a lot in a job search. Sometimes jobseekers aren’t ready for multiple rejections, but to get a success story, you need to handle rejection. Isabelita was great because she continued to push me. She kept me going.”
In the course of his journey, Maciej recognized the importance of security in his life – financial security, job security, and stability. But he also realized that it was important for him to work with good people and in a business that makes a good impact on the world. Ironically, working at a large, traditional company began to seem less and less appealing.
“I knew I needed a change when I started having discussions with headhunters and thought: Traditional companies are not ticking the box on “making a difference,” and “the significance of ‘why,’” said Maciej.
Shortly after beginning his job search Maciej had gotten a call from an old friend who was co-founder of a startup in Poland that provides remote vision therapy to children. He asked Maciej to join his team.
“It hadn’t occurred to me before that a startup might be right for me. Startups aren’t stable or reliable. There is a huge failure rate. But I came to see that you can have an outsized impact at a startup, you can respond to real needs in an innovative manner, you control the speed of action, and you can reach as far as you want when an opportunity arises.”
Maciej also realized that his nonlinear career path made him the ideal profile for a startup executive.
“Startups need people with varied experiences to manage and grow the business – leaders with a little bit of everything. I have moved diagonally a lot in my career. During my initial job search, people didn’t seem to have a clear idea of what I offered, but my background was perfect for a startup.”
Maciej told his friend that he would think about the offer. Meanwhile, he agreed to do consulting for the company and had a lot of discussions with Isabelita and his family about the sacrifices he (and his family) would face if he accepted a role at a startup.
A few weeks later, Maciej was ready. Not only did he join the team as chief commercial officer, but he also invested some of his own money into the company. He also assumed the role of CEO for a spin-off company.
“It is so much more rewarding being in the driver’s seat – when you move from being an employee to part owner and employer.”
Maciej is now based in Poland but charged with expanding business into the Middle East, India, and the U.S. He continues to lean on Isabelita to help him understand the business culture in the Middle East, where she has a lot of experience.
“If someone had told me six months ago that I’d be in Abu Dhabi meeting with medical doctors, I would have said it’s not possible. But here I am,” said Maciej. “Working for a startup isn’t right for everyone. You carry a lot of weight with you. But it’s a meaningful job, and I feel great that I can both help people and grow the company. It stretches you professionally, but no other job is as rewarding!”
Hugo Vereeken - Success StudyHead of Sales & Business Development
Hugo Vereeken was global OEM segment manager for a large multinational provider of power and industrial automation technologies.
Manufacturing, Industrial Engineering, Electronics, Sales
When Covid hit, Hugo’s employer shut down his department and terminated many senior executives, leaving Hugo unemployed after more than a decade with the company.
Learning how to handle third-party recruiters and building up his social capital helped Hugo overcome the stigma he faced from being a 60-something year old job seeker.
Hugo ultimately received three job offers and opted for a position as regional sales manager for a private manufacturer of industrial connectors and power distributors that seemed made for him.
For 11 years Hugo Vereeken was global OEM segment manager for a large multinational provider of power and industrial automation technologies based in Zurich. He managed a portfolio of 22 global accounts and business development efforts for international OEMs in three segments: cooling and ventilation, food and beverage, and diverse machinery, and he oversaw 15 global key account managers and a multimillion-dollar sales budget. When Covid swept the globe in early 2020, however, the company, anticipating decreasing market demand, shut down the entire business unit and laid off many of the senior executives, including Hugo.
Hugo was very motivated to find a new job and immediately started looking for a position with responsibilities and compensation commensurate with the decades of experience he brought to the table. He had every reason to feel confident about his prospects.
“I thought, ‘I have 38 years of professional experience as an engineer, program manager, business development manager, general manager and global sales leader. I have 24 years of direct exposure to customers. I have a master’s degree in electrical engineering, an MBA, a killer CV, international experience, and I speak five languages. Let the jobs come!’” said Hugo.
But the jobs didn’t come.
For nearly a year he scoured online job boards, sending hundreds of applications. Despite casting the net widely across most of Europe, responses were scarce, and interviews were even more scarce.
“In the rare interview I got, which was usually with a third-party recruiter, I didn’t get past the first stage,” said Hugo.
The easy reason to finger for his struggle was Covid. Everyone was reluctant to hire. But Hugo, age 62, saw something more pernicious at work: The silent rejection of people of a certain age.
“Age discrimination is against the law, but they never say you’re too old. They say, ‘Are you digital enough? Will you fit in with our dynamic team? Are you aware of the latest technological developments?’ These are all hidden reasons for rejections on the basis of age,” said Hugo. “I heard 25 different ways to say, “Hugo, you’re too old! Go and retire!’ That’s when I decided there has to be another way.”
Soon after, Hugo stumbled across The Barrett Group during a LinkedIn search and enlisted their help in his career change.
Hugo moved through the Clarity program quickly. The results of his self-assessments confirmed that he was on the right path in his pursuit of a customer-oriented job that required strength in math, creativity, and technical sales.
In the next chapter of his program, with the help of several career consultants, Hugo overhauled his CV and LinkedIn profile to garner more attention among hiring managers.
“My original CV was everything it should NOT be: chronological, long, and boring. With Greg Emslie and The Barrett Group writing team, we made a wonderful new version,” said Hugo. “My LinkedIn profile was also boring and incomplete, but with the help of Greg and Dan Resendes, my new profile attracted a lot more people, sometimes over 20-30 people per week. I started getting calls from people that were not even looking to hire, even some CEOs. That gave me hope!”
Even more valuable to Hugo were the techniques he learned for managing his career change and the perspective he got from his career consultants about navigating the modern job market.
“Greg taught me a lot of things. He told me about social capital – how to increase it and leverage it – and news ways to approach people. All these techniques were very handy,” said Hugo. “And the conversations I had with Greg and Anne Lipsitz helped me see through the attitudes and behaviors of third-party recruiters. I learned that third-party recruiters aren’t there to give me a job. Their money comes from the company that wants to fill a position, and recruiters couldn’t care less whether it’s you or someone else that gets hired.”
“I will no longer let a third-party recruiter tell me what to do and what not to do. It’s my job search. The direction I got from my Barrett Group consultants gave me strength to face the daily job search and never lose confidence in myself.”
As Hugo worked through TBG’s processes he increasingly succeeded in getting past third-party recruiters to land second interviews within the hiring organization.
“That’s where you want to be because then you’re talking to an HR person or the manager responsible for hiring,” said Hugo.
Although many of these interviews were unsuccessful, Hugo saw progress in his job search campaign. By mid-summer, three of his leads had turned into solid job offers with companies based in France, Quebec, and Germany, and Hugo found himself in the enviable position of being able to choose from three options.
In the end, Hugo accepted the position of regional sales manager and business development for the German company, a private manufacturer of industrial connectors and power distributors. It was a job requiring someone with many of Hugo’s strengths and talents.
“The opportunity came about from a job ad I’d responded to several weeks earlier. I had almost forgotten about them by the time the CEO contacted me,” said Hugo. “They wanted someone with a tech background, with lots of sales experience, and who speaks German, to manage their French subsidiary and oversee sales in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. It seemed like it was made for me!”
The company offered Hugo an attractive salary, healthcare and pension plan, and a brand-new company car.
“It’s exciting! I have had strategic marketing and sales meetings with the company heads in Germany and will be doing product training over the next few weeks.”
Hugo credits The Barrett Group with infusing his job search with crucial practical as well as emotional support.
“Before I began working with The Barrett Group, I had been out of a job for ten months with nothing to show for it except frustrating experiences and a feeling that I was too old. I learned a lot from Greg and Anne. Thanks to them, I felt better able to handle recruiters, and I developed the confidence that, even at my age, I can expect great opportunities.”
Peter Witke - Success StudyChief Commercial Officer
Peter Witke was head of international sales at a medical supply company in northern Europe.
Medical Devices & Equipment
When an executive-level disagreement about management structure forced him to seek other employment in the middle of the Covid crisis, Peter knew he needed help.
Reeling from an unanticipated severance, Peter benefited greatly from the Clarity program, which helped him better understand himself and his ideal work environment.
In two months, Peter landed a role as chief commercial officer at a company with a great need for someone with his skillset.
As head of international sales for a spinal device medical supply company in Germany, Peter Witke oversaw distribution to 37 countries around the world. He designed local strategies for business partners, managed the corporate sales structure, and set organizational goals. He racked up many impressive achievements, including 39% growth in Europe. Despite his accomplishments, however, a disagreement with company leadership about management structure evolved into an untenable work environment, and Peter left the company.
Peter had always managed his job searches and knew what to do. He contacted recruiters, reached out to his network, and signed up for LinkedIn Premium for premium job access resources. But this time was different – the Coronavirus had just begun sweeping across Europe.
“At the start of Covid all the responses I got from recruiters and hiring managers were a variation of ‘We aren’t hiring now because of Covid,’” said Peter. “I also learned that, nowadays, the majority of CVs are run through an algorithm that easily filters you out if you don’t tick a certain box. I hadn’t run into that before.”
As a homeowner and a father of four over age 50, Peter felt a high level of stress about his financial situation. He knew he matched the profile of someone who can expect high hurdles to a successful job search. So, when he learned about The Barrett Group (TBG) and the robust professional support they offer jobseekers to leverage the unpublished market to find their dream jobs, Peter was intrigued.
“I found The Barrett Group’s story appealing. When I heard from The Barrett Group that 75% of all jobs are found in the unpublished market and they can help me access it, I became very curious to find out what they do differently from what I have always done,” said Peter.
Peter first talked to Tomasz Lisewski and was impressed by TBG’s sales offerings. He remained skeptical, however, until he interviewed TBG CEO, Peter Irish, too.
“I became convinced that TBG could open doors to me that were currently closed – even in a completely different industry,” said Peter.
Peter signed on with TBG and began the Clarity program, which to his surprise, turned out to be the most valuable aspect of his entire experience.
“The Clarity program was a real eyeopener for me, especially the DISC profile exercise,” said Peter. “It was the scariest experience in my life to answer 24 questions and have it yield a 20-page analytical report about my skills and personality that was spot on! The report included what other people say about me. It wasn’t all positive, but it also made me better understand why my last job failed.”
Peter learned a lot about himself, including the kinds of management structure that fit and don’t fit his personality and skills. The coaching that followed built on that understanding.
“My Clarity coach, Julie Holifield, really helped me process my situation and figure out a reasonable next job. She was very compassionate at a time when I felt vulnerable,” said Peter.
Next, Peter was assigned an Executive Career Consultant and Program Manager, Paula Nordhoff, who gave him various tasks and guided him on how best to benefit from LinkedIn, leverage his network, get in front of hiring managers, and represent himself on his CV. Peter threw himself into the work, meeting twice per week with Paula.
“It was obvious that Paula was very experienced. She realized that I was in a difficult state of mind. I wasn’t just looking for a job, I was surviving life. She kept me very active, which was important to me psychologically,” said Peter.
Peter’s ultimate landing stemmed from a contact he’d made months earlier at a medical exhibition. The head of another medical device company desperately needed someone with Peter’s skills and experience to commercialize his products. He was thrilled to consider hiring Peter as soon as sales in medical devices recovered from the Covid downturn.
With Paula’s help, Peter nursed the relationship for several months, offering the CEO ideas and a proposal for a corporate strategic plan. Peter was finally offered an employment contract as chief commercial officer of this exciting company – and at a compensation level exceeding that of his previous position.
He couldn’t be happier.
“This has been a great learning experience,” said Peter. “I greatly appreciate the compassion shown to me by my two coaches, and their willingness to support me in getting to my next role. This coaching can really make a difference in how you approach the job market.
Elfreda - Success StudyVice President K-12 Strategy
Elfreda was a distinguished faculty member and national facilitator for a non-profit that researches the world’s best educational systems and shares its findings with America’s education leaders.
Education, Non-profit, EdTech, Software
Elfreda had risen as high as she could go in her organization and wanted new challenges, however, she wanted to be thoughtful and intentional before making her next career move.
Quantifying her accomplishments, using social media to leverage her rich network, and artfully messaging her job search were key to Elfreda’s success.
Elfreda connected with a former colleague who wanted her expertise in building out his EdTech startup and offered her an exciting executive role with a very attractive compensation package.
Elfreda was a national facilitator at a Washington D.C.-based non-profit that studies the world’s best educational systems and provides coaching for school superintendents, principals, and other U.S. education leaders on educational system designs and best practices. Her tenure at this organization capped a long career in education, education administration, and professional development, but after six years of piloting and driving various leadership development, performance, and system change initiatives, and earning the highest possible honor of “distinguished faculty member,” Elfreda felt that she’d maxed out her professional opportunities there. She wanted greater challenges.
The challenge Elfreda had was that she had always been recruited organically for new career opportunities and had little experience launching a job search. She also wanted to step back and carefully consider the direction of her career.
“I was so busy working that I never spent time getting clarity on what to do next in my career or reflecting on what I brought to a position. There came a point in my sixth year when I felt strongly that there was more that I wanted to do,” said Elfreda.
She also wanted a compensation package that was commensurate with her background and experience.
“I knew I had more value. I’m known in the education space and I’ve not had trouble supplementing my income with consulting work,” said Elfreda. “But I wanted to work with an organization where I would feel like a partner on a team and be excited about the work I was doing.”
A leadership coach, herself, Elfreda was a big advocate of coaching in career development, but she’d never hired one before. She knew the time had come to do so.
"I needed an executive coach to help me be really clear about what I wanted. I am near the end of my career and wanted to be very intentional about my career change,” said Elfreda. “Mentors have helped me throughout my career, but I knew a professional coach would help me develop a formal strategy. Coaches also bring a greater level of accountability, so the likelihood was greater that I would follow through on my strategy. I saw this as an investment in me – a gift to myself.”
Elfreda started with TBG’s Clarity Program, finding it to be a great way to reassess her goals and priorities.
“With my Clarity coach, Stuart Bailey, I realized that I had goals that I wasn’t prioritizing, like spending more time with family and exercising on a regular basis. I learned that salary is not the most important thing in my job search, rather, trust, respect, flexibility in my schedule, and working with open-minded people. Stuart also helped to reinforce some of my positive traits that I wasn’t highlighting,” said Elfreda.
“That first phase of the program was really helpful to me. I didn’t expect it to be as helpful as it was,” said Elfreda.
Elfreda got even greater benefit from the relationship she built next with her career consultant.
“Julie Mathern really pushed me. She taught me to do stuff on social media that I didn’t know how to do. That was a priority for me. I like systems to track things and she brought them to me. Julie really encouraged me. I felt we had a really good connection,” said Elfreda.
Although she had a great personal network already, Elfreda welcomed Julie’s coaching on how to leverage it and how to communicate to people that she was job hunting. She also felt that the work she did on quantifying her accomplishments added a lot to her resume and interviewing skills.
Elfreda’s job search had barely gotten started when the pandemic went into full swing. At first, she lamented her poor timing, but she came to see a silver lining.
“I was still working at my former job and, because of the pandemic, I wasn’t traveling as much. My work went online, and that shift meant less time in airports and more time at home to focus on my job priorities,” said Elfreda.
Her job search moved more slowly, but Elfreda trusted the process. She credits her consultant with keeping her on target. In the coming months, three or four opportunities arose, proving to her that her new strategies were beginning to work.
“Julie reminded me that I didn’t have to accept the first offer. She encouraged me to stay true to my priorities and wait for the right opportunity to come along,” said Elfreda. “I really valued that relationship. I didn’t want to let her down!”
Her consultant predicted that Elfreda’s network is what would bear fruit – not job postings, and she was right. Nearly a year after beginning her TBG program, Elfreda saw on LinkedIn that a former colleague was building out an EdTech startup. She initiated a conversation and, not long afterwards, the colleague said he needed her as a thought partner and would love to have her on his team.
Elfreda’s career consultant coached her through the hiring negotiations, including title, compensation package, and reporting channels. In the end, Elfreda got a job offer that delighted her and she is now thoroughly enjoying her new job helping to build learning tools for virtual education.
“I’m contributing a great deal and helping to grow the company,” said Elfreda. “I’m energized by my new job.”
Elfreda is grateful to The Barrett Group for helping her navigate this career transition.
“Having a consistent coach was really helpful,” said Elfreda. “And it was clear to me that all the people at The Barrett Group really wanted me to succeed.”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.”
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